Jewish Recipes for Hanukkah

Hanukkah comes with its own special food traditions and recipes. Soofganiot (doughnuts) and latkes or livivot (potato pancakes) are popular Hanukkah treats. Traditionally, fried food and dairy food are eaten during Hanukkah. As you prepare your Hanukkah cards and Hanukkah food, we’ve compiled some great Jewish recipes for Hanukkah.

Here’s a little insight as to why certain foods are associated with Hanukkah:

  • Fried foods are to remind us of the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days when the Maccabees purified and rededicated the holy Temple in Jerusalem.
  • Dairy is often eaten on Hanukkah to remind us of the story of the Jewish heroine, Yehudit (Judith).
    • Yehudit saved her village which was under siege by the Syrians. The Syrians were trying to starve the Jews so they would surrender. She went to the governor of the Syrians troops and brought him cheese and wine. She got him drunk. After he collapsed on the floor, Yehudit took his sword and beheaded him. She brought his head back to her town in her basket. The next morning the Jews attacked the Syrian troops. When the Syrians ran to their governor and found him on the ground beheaded, they got scared and fled. Thus Yehudit saved her town.
  • Loukoumades are deep-fried puffs dipped in honey or sugar to represent the cakes the Maccabees ate, along with Soofganiyot (also Sufganiyot) and zelebi.
  • Pancakes are a traditional dish, serving as a reminder of the food hurriedly prepared for the Maccabees as they went into battle, along with the oil they are fried in as a reminder of the miraculous oil.

Jewish Recipes Ideas

Hanukkah Sufganiyot (Jelly Doughnuts)

These deep-fried Israeli delicacies symbolize the miracle of the burning oil lamps in the ancient Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Plump up each fried dough ball with your favorite fruit jam. For a wintry effect, sprinkle the tops with granulated sugar.
Makes 20
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water, (100 degrees to 110 degrees)
1/4 cup plus 1 Teaspoon sugar, plus more for rolling
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons salt
3 cups vegetable oil, plus more for bowl
1 cup seedless raspberry jam


  • In a small bowl, combine yeast, warm water, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Set aside until foamy, about 10 minutes.
  • Place flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the center; add eggs, yeast mixture, 1/4 cup sugar, butter, nutmeg, and salt. Using a wooden spoon, stir until a sticky dough forms.
  • On a well-floured work surface, knead until dough is smooth, soft, and bounces back when poked with a finger, about 8 minutes (add more flour if necessary).
  • Place in an oiled bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to rise until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  • On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness.
  • Using a 2 1/2-inch-round cutter or drinking glass, cut 20 rounds. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise 15 minutes.
  • In medium saucepan over medium heat, heat oil until a deep-frying thermometer registers 370 degrees.
  • Using a slotted spoon, carefully slip 4 rounds into oil. Fry until golden, about 40 seconds. Turn doughnuts over; fry until golden on other side, another 40 seconds.
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet. Roll in sugar while warm. Fry all dough, and roll in sugar.
  • Fill a pastry bag fitted with a #4 tip with jam.
  • Using a wooden skewer or toothpick, make a hole in the side of each doughnut. Fit the pastry tip into a hole, pipe about 2 teaspoons jam into doughnut. Repeat with remaining doughnuts.

Potato-Carrot Pancake,

Prep: 30 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Serves 4
3/4 pound (about 3 medium) white potatoes, peeled
8 ounces (about 3 medium) carrots, peeled
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions (about 3 scallions)
Coarse salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup matzo meal
1/4 cup vegetable oil, for frying
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream, for serving (optional)

  • In a food processor fitted with a fine-hole grating attachment (or on the small holes of a box grater), grate potatoes and carrots.
  • Transfer to a large bowl; add scallions and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.
  • Using your hands, mix thoroughly. Mix in egg and matzo meal until combined. Divide into 8 mounds of equal size.
  • In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat, swirling to coat bottom of pan.
  • Add half the potato mounds; flatten each to a 1/2-inch thickness. Cook until golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes per side.
  • Transfer to paper towels or parchment paper to drain. Repeat with remaining mounds (reduce temperature to medium if browning too quickly). Sprinkle with salt, and serve with sour cream, if desired

Chocolate coin cookies

Wrap these cookies in metallic foils to make homemade Hanukkah gelt.
Makes about 3 dozen
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated orange zest (optional)
1/4 cup granulated sugar

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  • , Add egg; mix until well combined.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, flour, salt, and orange zest, if using.
  • Add flour mixture to egg mixture; continue mixing until the ingredients are just combined, scraping down sides of the bowl.
  • Scrape dough onto a piece of plastic wrap; flatten into a disk.
  • Wrap, and chill at least 1 hour or overnight.
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place granulated sugar in a small bowl.
  • On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to a 1/4-inch thickness.
  • Using a 2-inch-round cutter, cut out cookies.
  • Carefully press each cookie into granulated sugar.
  • Transfer cookies to sheets, spaced 1/2 inch apart.
  • Bake until cookies are firm, about 12 minutes.
  • Cool on a wire rack. Wrap in foil. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Potato, Sweet Potato, and Onion Latkes

Here is a twist on the classic Hanukkah treat. For more variations using carrots and parsnips, or onions and horseradish, see end of recipe.
Makes 2 dozen 2-inch latkes
1 all-purpose potato, or Yukon Gold potato (about 10 ounces), peeled
1 sweet potato (about 10 ounces), peeled
1/4 large white onion, peeled
1 large egg, room temperature
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying

  • Grate potatoes and onion using the largest holes of a four-sided grater.
  • Combine in a small bowl; add egg, flour, salt, and pepper, and stir well to combine.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls into the pan, and cook until golden brown around the edges, about 3 minutes.
  • Turn latkes over, press lightly with a spatula, and cook about 3 minutes more. Continue cooking latkes in batches until batter is used up.
  • Serve with applesauce or sour cream.
  • Potato, carrot, and parsnip variation: Use 2 all-purpose potatoes, 1 medium carrot, and 1 small parsnip. Potato, onion, and horseradish variation: Use 2 Yukon Gold potatoes, 1/4 large white onion, and 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish, liquid pressed out.

Noodle Kugel

Somewhat sweet and a bit savory, kugels can be served as side dish or a breakfast treat.
Serves 8 to 10
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for dish
Coarse salt
1 pound broad egg noodles
6 large eggs
2 cups (16 ounces) sour cream, room temperature
1 cup sugar
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large Granny Smith apples, (about 12 ounces total), peeled, cored, and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking dish; set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Add noodles; cook until al dente according to package instructions, about 6 minutes. Drain noodles; return to pot. Set aside.
  • Put eggs and sour cream into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until combined.
  • , Mix in 3/4 cup sugar, 3/4 cup butter, and the cream cheese. Set aside.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Stir in 2 tablespoons sugar, the cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  • Add apples; gently toss to coat.
  • Cook, tossing occasionally, until soft and caramelized, 10 to 12 minutes.
  • apples into egg mixture; pour over noodles. Toss gently to combine. Pour into prepared dish.
  • Drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons butter over noodles; sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.
  • Bake until set and top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.
  • Transfer to a wire rack; let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Happy Hanukkah!

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